Sunday, July 03, 2005


Just got back from a weekend in Marmora, home of the annual Agricola Luther Summer Church Camp (ALSCC), where M's biological clock goes into annual overdrive. Those kids sure are cute, when they aren't destroying tents, poking each other with sticks, or practicing their gangsta rap vernacular.

Whenever I'm in a place like Marmora, paddling upriver toward town, I wonder "why do I live in Toronto?" Maybe it's just the perfect place for a reformed/grown-up anarchist. Okay, I was never really an anarchist, but I did spray-paint it on the junior high school once. "There's a school of anarchists who believe in utopian fiction," I'm told. I didn't know they had a school. Anarchists are the only folks more naive than I am.

Dystopia's where it's at. What Toronto is perfect for is a civil war. We've got all the signs of neo-apocalypse (you gotta add neo to most things nowadays) - heat waves, blackouts, ethnic factions, resentment toward immigrants, resource (land/housing) shortages, heavy pollution, class factions, and a general enduring sense of bitterness. Maybe like Ronald Wright's romantic scientist if you went 500 years forward here you'd find rubble - clues to an unseen civilization that once was, an Easter Island with the biggest Rapa Nui being a toppled tower with pointed top. If this is the near future I need to get downstream fast. Or maybe north to teach in the Northwest Territories, like my Great Aunt before me.

That crazy river eventually brought us back to camp Christian, and like M I do love those kids. I don't know where she gets the energy for a week with them, even 2 days is exhausting. But they are fun and they have their own kid culture - ruthlessly blunt, sometimes cruel, but other times sweet and gentle, easing into new friendships and all too easily influenced for good or evil. M's influence is oh so positive and beautiful, and she ponders how to make it more so, thinking on the future of social justice. All the ills of society, and all the great wonder of being, is in these kids, as they insult each other with racial genderized slurs, threaten death by heavy gunfire, and make up with a quick hug.

On return home I listened to Vegetarians of Love (VOL), by Bob Geldof. I was inspired to dig out this classic after reading a newspaper article on Live 8, in which the writer paid tribute to Geldof's 'one hit wonder', I Hate Mondays. The article also mentioned that the man was nominated for a nobel peace prize and starred in 'The Wall', the movie. It seems the world is unaware of VOL, which made my brother's top 10 albums of all time list. This album is incredibly deep, transcending politics and waxing deep ecological philosophy, with an immense appreciation of Jane Rule's "lottery win that is life."

Geldof was originally known as an Irish punker, but VOL has a decidely Celtic bent, the catchiness of which almost disguises its depth. But, sample these lyrics if you will [from various songs]:

Never bring me down to earth again
Let me blaze a trail of glory across the sky
Let me traipse across it's golden high
Let me marvel in wonder and unfettered gaze
At the bigness and implausibility of being

Yes stretch out your hands into infinity you human things
Past blind moons and ice cream worlds
You hurl your metal ball of dull intelligence
And show us all our fragile grip

I'm thinking about mortality
I'm thinking it's a cheap price we pay for existence
This is the moment that we come alive
This is the breath and this is the kiss

She stores up ancient souvenirs like ravens with their hoards
It's not the getting old she minds it's the meaningless of being
She thinks about all this while Jean sings about la vie
And accordions and violins take her back in time
When the only explanation was a kiss and love and life

There were tremors in your cheekbones
There was longing in your eyes
But I thought I smelt a nameless fear
Buried in your thighs

Systems of belief well they come and they go babe
The myths we believe in they change from day to day
I believe belief will wrap your brains in chains
So I'm for changing

Desperate deeds were done by men with guns in China
Boys in clean white shirts
Stopped the tanks in their dirt
And the blood they spilled
Just made the white shine brighter
They weren't waiting baby
They were breaking up the chains of pain
They're not slaves they're changing
By breaking up the chains of pain

A brain in chains is just a heart enslaved
Join the chain gang
Break it up

There's a road that's never used
That's never kissed with the hiss of wheel
In your mouth is a rusted brace
That you flash in your junkyard smile
Shine on like a rose at night

So I walked over to Battersea Park
Down by the Sri Chimnoy Mile
Past the Peace Pagoda
It's good
YOu can have a personal religious experience
And get healthy at the same time
Which obviously is important for a busy man like me
Well another moment in life's great adventure
It's no small wonder

It takes you by surprise the places you find yourself in
One minute you're here
Next minute you're there
And then you're gone
If it wasn't for a well placed sense of direction
You could lose your head and simply carry on
Walking back to happiness

It'll start with a whimper it'll end with a bang
It'll leave a big hole where we could have sang

So everyone outside look up at the sky
It's the last time you'll see it so wave it goodbye
You took it for granted you thought it was free
Say goodbye to the leaves the trees and the sea
There's nothing more useless than a car that won't start
But it's even more useless at the end of the world.

Dystopia, baby.


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